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May 18, 2016


Tim Maltin's Titanic: A Very Deceiving Night is a great bit of historical investigation and reconstruction. Maltin took a fresh pass through the weather data from ships throughout the area and makes a very solid case for there being a strong inversion layer in the Titanic's environs the night it sank. He then goes on to discuss just how weird the mirage effects can be when a marine inversion layer gets going, with some pretty stunning daytime photos of massive distortion.

Maltin lays out good reasons to believe that the Titanic's lookouts didn't see the iceberg earlier because it was completely lost in the false horizon constructed by the inversion layer. He also offers an interpretation of the Californian-Titanic interactions that doesn't excuse the Californian's captain from crucial bad decisions but does explain the crew's confusion.

I'm not the only satisfied reader - the Amazon comments include glowing praise from astronomer/biologist/polymath/Heinlein character escaped into reality Charles Pellegrino, who sees it as a good fresh light on the tragedy.

Dreams From The Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror, edited by Lynne Jamneck, is just what it sounds like. If you like Lovecraftian horror, you'll like this. It's really, really good, with work from Joyce Carol Oates (one of two reprints in this volume), Caitlin R. Kiernan (the other), Colleen Douglas, Elizabeth & Sarah Monette, Storm Constantine, Nancy Kilpatrick, Gemma Files, and others, and there's not a dud in the light. I liked some more than others, but duh, that'll happen. There's not a one I'd hesitate to recommend.

I got most of the way through Too Like the Lightning and lost interest. Too many spoilers involved in explaining why. It is well written and intelligent, but I just couldn't see any reason for caring about the political machinations and I don't care for the manipulation of the reader where you find out extremely important things that logically you could have about earlier given the narrator. It did draw me in, but I realized I really didn't care that much. When the complete series is done I'll look at the Wikipedia entry and decide if it sounds like it might be worth a return visit but right now, no.

I am going to stop taking the recommendations of the Crooked Timber people on SF. Yeah, brilliant, lots of ideas, etc... If I want to read about theology or political philosophy, and sometimes I do, it's better to read about it more directly.

I'm about a quarter of the way through The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling, and am enjoying it so far. The first two societies encountered are appealing, and it's interesting to see how they downplay their own radical nature.

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